Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms with Fennel Frond Pesto

Smmmmmm ahhhhh! Smell that?

Love is in the air!

Oops! Did I say love? I meant spring. But that's still a reason to be excited!

With an unremitting forecast of weather hovering around 80 degrees, the only one who's not in good spirits is my new afro. Alas, no amount of product will keep these waves at bay. 

And if you're on campus, you've probably noticed that the fauna has reached neon levels of exceptionality. This school must keep their plant food recipe under lock and key, because grass this green has only previously been seen in dream sequences. You know the saying, "The grass is always greener"? Yeah, they were talking about Elon. 

I think it's safe to say that we can pack away our skinny jeans and cable knit sweaters for good, now. That's right, because from here on out, it's short hem-lined sundresses (wishful thinking) lax pinnies all day, every day. Definitely no complaints from this girl.

Well, maybe one. 

I have no doubt that every student can relate to this-- the productivity degeneration that occurs every time the sun shines. While going to school in the south gives us shorter winters and and year-round tans, it also makes doing work that much harder. An 85 degree SURF day celebration just doesn't look as fun on the flip side of a library window. 

And with final exams marching in like the Hun army just as we bust out the SPF, I feel doomed for deadbeat city. 

While I can't offer any solutions yet, (I'm still trying to figure out a plan of attack for these last few projects) I can offer some recipes that provide temporary liberation from that daunting workload. At the very least, trying one of these healthy meals may trick your brain into thinking that you're being productive. And maybe then, you can open up Word. 

Fennel Frond Pesto 
Makes about 1 cup

[2] cups fennel fronds, plus [1] tsp
[3/4] cup chopped fennel stalk
[3] tbsp raw almonds, whole
[1] garlic clove
[1] lemon, juice
[2] tbsp olive oil
[1] tsp salt
[1] tsp cracked black pepper
[1/4] cup water

Place fennel fronds and chopped stalk, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor (or blender) and puree until well combined. If the mixture is too thick, add up to [1/4] cup of water. You could also add more olive oil, but to keep it light, stick with water. When the pesto reaches a thick and even consistency, transfer to a small serving dish.

For the mushrooms:
[3.5] oz Shiitake mushrooms
non-stick cooking spray

Start by preheating a grill pan to high. Remove stems from the mushrooms, then season them with salt and pepper. Once the grill is hot, spray it with the non-stick cooking spray and arrange the mushrooms around the grill, cap side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and continue cooking for another couple minutes.

To plate, arrange mushrooms on a dish and top with about a couple tablespoons of the pesto. Garnish the plate with a teaspoon of fresh chopped fennel fronds and a drizzling of olive oil.

The fennel, lemon and almond combo make a really unique pesto that's not too overpowering. And come on, grilled mushrooms really are just the greatest. 

A springtime recipe so gratifying, Peter Rabbit himself would forgo his carrot addiction. But he'd probably never admit that... 

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